Neighbors dealt another blow in Fore River compressor station fight; court tosses lawsuit

·2 min read

WEYMOUTH – A state Appeals Court tossed out a lawsuit filed by residents challenging one of the approvals granted for the natural gas compressor station on the banks of the Fore River.

A three-judge panel affirmed a Superior Court judge’s decision that the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station could not seek judicial review of the approval issued by the state Office of Coastal Zone Management.

The Weymouth natural gas compressor station on the Fore River as seen from the Fore River Bridge on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.
The Weymouth natural gas compressor station on the Fore River as seen from the Fore River Bridge on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.

The court ruled that the citizens group did not have a right to an agency hearing, and therefore did not have a right to judicial review.

Alice Arena of the anti-compressor group said the town initially filed the appeal and the citizens group intervened. But Arena said the residents were left "out in the ether" when the town dropped its appeal as part of a host community agreement with energy company Enbridge.

"That was a difficult one because we were asking the court to set precedent on who had standing to appeal a (Coastal Zone Management) decision," she said.

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The compressor station is part of Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge project, which expands the company’s natural gas pipelines from New Jersey into Canada. Since the station was proposed in 2015, residents have argued it presents serious health and safety risks.

Algonquin Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy, received initial approval for the compressor station in January 2017 from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Enbridge later acquired Spectra.

State regulators also issued several permits for the project despite strong opposition from local officials and residents. The Office of Coastal Zone Management approved it in November 2019.

Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station Director Alice Arena, right, addresses a rally opposing the Enbridge gas compressor station in North Weymouth as state Rep. James Murphy of Weymouth, left, and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey look on, Friday, April 2, 2021.
Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station Director Alice Arena, right, addresses a rally opposing the Enbridge gas compressor station in North Weymouth as state Rep. James Murphy of Weymouth, left, and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey look on, Friday, April 2, 2021.

In another case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently threw out a joint appeal by Quincy, Hingham, Braintree and a group of residents challenging the state Department of Environmental Protection’s air quality permit for the project.

Arena said several rehearing requests are pending in federal court, and the group's appeal of the waterways permit will soon be heard in Superior Court.

"That's always been our strongest argument, so we're looking forward to that," she said.

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Superior Court dismisses Fore River compressor station lawsuit

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